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Break through your plateau in bodyweight training with intensity techniques

The trend towards bodyweight and functional training is currently on the rise. It is certainly due to currently less positive events that training outside of the fitness studio is increasingly becoming socially acceptable.

But regardless of that, there are many people who have recognized some advantages of training with their own body weight for themselves. In many fitness studios there are now small cross boxes or functional areas where specific bodyweight and functional training can be done.

Quite rightly, because the training is functional and flexible. You always have your own body with you. So you can train anytime and anywhere and you don’t need anything but yourself. Nevertheless, a fairly effective training is possible. That applies at least up to a certain training level. Then tools like the intensity techniques come into play, which is the focus of this article.

Especially for training on the go or at home, training without equipment and weights is the method of choice for more and more people. After all, not everyone has a bench and a couple of dumbbells lying around at home. With a few simple and portable tools, such as a sling trainer or a few Thera bands *, you can even make the whole thing super easy and a little more varied and intense.

The fact is that with some exercises without additional weight it is not so easy to reach your limit in the long term. Especially if you really want to train intensively and, for example, build muscle mass you have to come up with something. The intensity techniques discussed below are methods that you can use for this purpose. I have specifically selected those techniques that make them particularly effective in bodyweight training.

Why intensity techniques are useful for your training with your own body weight

I have already discussed in another article that even more effective muscle building with your own body weight is possible. A few years ago I also did an experiment over six months, the results of which were better than I expected.

If you keep on training with bodyweight exercises, with a little practice you can quickly get into areas in which you can manage large numbers of repetitions. Sooner or later you will end up in the field of strength endurance . At this point, continuing to do effective strength training without the aid of weights requires some experience and the right approach.

Performing hypertrophy training and maximum strength training becomes a challenge. Depending on the training goal, this can be very sobering because a significant increase in strength and muscle mass can no longer be achieved without further ado. However, you can meet this challenge with the right tools and techniques. Basically you have three things that you can do now:

  1. Adding aids such as Thera-bands or a sling trainer
  2. More demanding exercise variants (you can find these e.g. in the Bodyweight Training Book by Pat Bauer *)
  3. Targeted application of intensity techniques

Ideally, you combine all three options in order to get the most out of you.

What are intensity-techniques?

Intensity techniques are special training techniques that were developed in weight training and bodybuilding to increase training intensity. Unusual training stimuli should be set through changes in training. A targeted use of such stimuli can help the trainee to make further progress when he has reached a plateau in training. One speaks of a plateau in strength training when the person exercising, despite great efforts, no longer (can) make progress in the desired direction.

What intensity techniques are there?

There are a lot of intensity techniques. If you ask Google, you will see tons of results on the topic. There you can read a lot about drop sentences, super sentences , forced repetitions, mammoth sentences, negative sentences, maximum concentration training, partial repetitions and some other types of increasing intensity.

Some of these techniques are very useful for negotiating a plateau. However, the techniques described have one thing in common: They are actually intended for weight training in a gym. They are structured and described accordingly.

In this article, however, my focus is on training that you can do anywhere (even in a hotel as hotel room training ). I don’t want you to think that you have to train in a certain place or with heavy weights for your training success (even if this can have a few advantages).

So the crucial questions are:

  • Which intensity techniques are (also) suitable for bodyweight training?
  • How can the intensity techniques best be applied to training with your own body weight?

The result are the following five methods, which I hope will help you to make your bodyweight training a little more intense.

The best 5 intensity techniques for training without weights

I have spent a long time studying existing intensity techniques in order to identify the best ones and apply them to my location-independent training program. For this article I have summarized the most effective techniques for this purpose in my experience.

All five variants are extremely effective when used correctly and it differs from person to person with which intensity technique the best results can be achieved. The following order therefore does not say anything about the effectiveness.

I advise anyone who seriously wants to make long-term progress in training with their own body weight not to limit themselves to one of the techniques described, but to try all of them, to switch between the techniques and to combine them with one another.

1) Extension of TuT (Time under Tension)

My personal favorite among the intensity techniques is the extension of the time under tension. This is the time when the muscles are under tension. Some also refer to this technique to a large extent as slow-motion training.

By performing the movement more slowly, the muscles are kept under tension for a longer period of time with the same number of repetitions. As a result, the muscles can be fatigued with a significantly lower number of repetitions. It is also important that the muscles are not able to “rest” between the repetitions. At the end point of the eccentric movement, there is therefore a direct transition to the concentric movement. I think the explanation of how the muscles work on is very good.

Jahn von Fitvolution Liegestützen Bodyweight-Training Muskelaufbau mit dem eigenen Körpergewicht durch Intensitätstechniken

You think pushups are too easy? Then make it sooooo slow! 😉

If, for example, you are so far with your training that you can do 30 push-ups in a row, then pay attention to your pace. Let’s assume that you have been concentric for one second, held for one second and moved extentrically for one second (1-1-1). Now try to slow down the movement so that you need three seconds for the concentric and three seconds for the eccentric movement (3-0-3).

In any case, pay attention to a concentrated, even execution of the movement. You will notice how your muscles are exhausted after significantly fewer repetitions. Slow down the movement so that you exhaust your muscles with the desired number of repetitions.

Since I would like to write a lot more about the optimal use of the time under tension technique, there will probably be a separate article in the future.

2) Negative sentences

Negative sentences are often confused with passive sentences. While passive sentences are rather unsuitable for training with your own body weight, negative sentences can also be used effectively in bodyweight training.

In negative sentences, the eccentric part of the movement is carried out much more slowly than the concentric part. In principle, negative sentences are a special form of extending the time under tension. Examples of the course of movement in a negative sentence would be 2-0-5 or 2-0-10. The eccentric movement is therefore significantly longer than the concentric movement.

This is how you train until the muscle does not allow another repetition. When training without weights, you should also choose the speed here so that you can just manage the desired number of repetitions.

3) Supersets

With super sets, two sets are completed one after the other. At the end of one exercise, you switch directly to the next and start executing. The pause between sentences should really be minimal here. So prepare everything so that you can start the other exercise as soon as possible after completing one exercise.

With classic supersets (also antagonistic supersets) opposite muscle groups are trained in a superset. So you train chest / back, biceps / triceps or hamstrings / leg extensions together in a superset. For example, you could do push-ups first and then do pull-ups immediately.

This type of antagonist training leads to additional stimulation of the muscles, since the antagonist is also involved in every movement.

By eliminating the break between sets, you also save a lot of time. Of course, this suits us fitvolutionaries, as we have a lot to do and want to achieve maximum results with a minimum investment of time. In my article specifically about supersets and superset training this is therefore in the foreground. However, the effect on training intensity should not be underestimated.

4) Mammoth sentences

Mammoth sentences are similar to supersets. Here, too, two exercises are performed one after the other and with a minimal break. However, the same muscle group is trained with mammoth sets. That is why they are sometimes referred to as agonistic supersets. For example, a combination of pull-ups and let me ins or dips and diamond push-ups would be possible.

In a mammoth sentence, different areas of the muscle are addressed in order to tire the entire muscle to the maximum with little expenditure of time. Due to the large size, it is also possible to use the muscles without additional weight.

Insider tip: In order to maximally challenge the muscles, you should always do the heavier exercise first with the mammoth sentences.

5) Concentration

The fifth intensity technique on this list is strictly not one at all. Rather, it should be the basis of every workout. Correctly recognized, I am not talking about maximum concentration rates, but about concentrating on your training and your trained muscles. During your training you should not get distracted and under no circumstances do things on the side if they prevent you from concentrating as much as possible on the muscles that you want to train.

During training, I always concentrate as much as possible on the muscle that I want to train with this exercise. This enables me to target the muscle in a much more targeted manner. This makes it possible to set the best possible training stimulus much more consciously.

Just try it yourself. Do as many dips as you can. How many did you manage? How do your triceps feel now?

Take a worthwhile break now, and then try again. Only this time do you concentrate fully on your triceps. Feel your muscles and try to specifically apply the greatest possible force when moving with the triceps. How many repetitions did you do this time? How does your triceps feel now?

The difference between the two attempts should show you how important the focus on the muscle is for the effectiveness of your training.

Unfortunately, this is neglected by many. If you only really implement one thing from this article, it is: Make sure that with every exercise of your training you concentrate on the muscles that you want to train. You will notice and see the difference! Believe me: Focus is your superpower !

Other suitable intensity techniques

I regularly use the five techniques described above for my training. I have found that these techniques are best applicable to bodyweight training.

There are other intensity techniques as well. Some are also suitable for training without weights. Such techniques are, for example, sets of 21 and maximum concentration sets. However, I don’t find any of them nearly as effective as the methods presented.


Now you should know what you have to do in order to make further progress with your training without weights. If your Basic bodyweight exercises slowly become too easy, then in the future you will simply resort to intensity techniques.

It is important, however, that you don’t just rely on the use of intensity techniques. It is not optimal if you always do the same exercises when they have become too easy. Also look for new and challenging exercise variations to face new challenges. Then your training won’t get boring that quickly.

If you really want to deal more intensively with bodyweight training and learn such exercises, I can recommend the book by my friend and blogger colleague Patrick Bauer. I don’t know anyone who is so familiar with training without equipment in German-speaking countries. There are 85 exercise instructions with videos and nine different training plans. Exclusively for my readers, there is an extra 15% discount on the package if you enter the discount code “fitvolution” .

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